I had told myself, "No more Apple stories this week," given how often the company has been appearing here, but here is something so odd that it begged for a post. The Register had an item yesterday about Apple's terms and conditions for iPhone applications, including that they can only be purchased for non-commercial use. Details in just a moment, but the short take is that it's true. Even with all the business apps in the store, you're not supposed to use any of them in business. But it's not just some aberration in the U.K.; this condition is also imposed on U.S. buyers as well.
The issue came up for a European blogger who found that he couldn't get an invoice for an app from Apple showing VAT, or value-added tax, which is the equivalent of sales tax in a U.S. state. Without the invoice showing the VAT, his company's accounting department couldn't properly reimburse him. Here's part of the answer he received: "The iTunes Store sells only to customers as end-users for personal, noncommercial use--"
The Register pointed readers to Apple's iTunes Store (which covers apps sales) which had the language about the non-commercial restriction. That had to be something odd about the U.K., right? I mean, Apple boasts of the thousands of business applications in the U.S. app store, so buyers would clearly need to use the business apps for a commercial use. Why else would you buy a business application? Apple has all these profiles of people using iPhones in business. So this is a regional aberration, right?
Ah -- no. If you check the U.S. terms and conditions, you find the following listed as the second usage rule: "You shall be authorized to use the Products only for personal, noncommercial use."
And now for even more confusion. Here's a statement toward the bottom of the terms and conditions:
The Licensed Application and related documentation are "Commercial Items", as that term is defined at 48 C.F.R. Â§2.101, consisting of "Commercial Computer Software" and "Commercial Computer Software Documentation", as such terms are used in 48 C.F.R. Â§12.212 or 48 C.F.R. Â§227.7202, as applicable. Consistent with 48 C.F.R. Â§12.212 or 48 C.F.R. Â§227.7202-1 through 227.7202-4, as applicable, the Commercial Computer Software and Commercial Computer Software Documentation are being licensed to U.S. Government end users (a) only as Commercial Items and (b) with only those rights as are granted to all other end users pursuant to the terms and conditions herein. Unpublished-rights reserved under the copyright laws of the United States.So, in summary:
- There are many business-related apps in Apple's online store.
- You can only employ apps, including the business-related ones, for personal, non-commercial use.
- All applications are commercial items.
I wonder what the Palm Pre terms and conditions are.
There's also one additional twist. Notice that I truncated Apple's answer to the U.K. blogger. Here's the full passage:
I am sorry that the receipt is not completely to your requirements, however The iTunes Store sells only to customers as end-users for personal, noncommercial use in their respective countries of residence. The amount you see on your receipt is a total (including tax) with this purpose in mind.Does this mean that you can't use any iPhone apps if you're traveling internationally? I looked in the terms and conditions and couldn't find it. But maybe I have to complete a law degree first. I wonder if there's a non-commercial app for that?